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Appreciating Every Milestone Showing Horses

Whether you are new to the show scene or have been at it for years, it is important to appreciate every milestone as sometimes exhibitors become easily discouraged in the show pen.

Many factors create doubt, such as forgetting your pattern, your horse misbehaving, or even missing your diagonal. It is perfectly reasonable to feel a loss of confidence, but it is conquerable.

Put the hours in the saddle and focus on developing you and your horse as a team. Rushing through problems to get to the next task is not conducive to an overall happy, fulfilled life. Slow down, take a step back, and appreciate the little moments.

Before & After Progress

Some exhibitors are visual learners; they need to be able to see the problem with their own eyes. The most obvious way to study your progress is by videoing your ride. Ask a friend or family member at the barn to take a video of you riding.

Then, study the videos after your ride and note what you can improve on. This method works best for visual learners but can benefit all exhibitors. As time progresses, take “updated” videos.

Next, compare the first recording to the most recent one. There does not have to be a substantial change for progress to cultivate. Write down on paper three things you have improved on and be grateful for your growth as an equestrian.

Be Present at the Moment

This may sound simple, but it is far from an easy task. However, the steps to achieve being present are doable. First, forgive and forget the past.

Forget the negative and focus solely on what is right in front of you. It is lovely to dream about the future or the next show but work hard for today. Winners put in the hours to reach their milestones.

Don’t dwell on the past or agonize over the future. The past is gone and cannot be rewritten. The future is full of possibilities, and the only way to harness them is by living in the present every single day.

Set Small, Measurable Goals

Establishing concrete criteria for your goals allows you to track your progression. This also enables exhibitors to stay motivated towards “the big picture.” Motivation and dedication are vital to every milestone.

An example of setting small goals would be forcing yourself to ride without stirrups for one day and then gradually adding on more laps as the weeks go on. It is wonderful to have big dreams of winning a world title, but do not forget those little milestones that build you to that point.

Here are a few examples of questions to ask yourself to know whether your goals are measurable or not.

“How much?”
“How many?”
“How will I know once this goal is achieved?”

Do Not Get Discouraged by Setbacks

You have to keep in mind that setbacks are only temporary. Discouragement leads to self-doubt, which ultimately kills successful show careers. This may sound unusual, but try being thankful for your minor bumps in the road.

Exhibitors do not necessarily learn from winning a trophy; they learn by making mistakes. Acknowledge the obstacles you face as merely a step on the way to your big goals. Turn your failures into successes and appreciate every time you step into the show pen.

Give Yourself Time

Do not try to rush through each stage of progress. Working diligently and hurrying the process are two very different entities.

Be persistent, but do not force anything. There is always another show just around the corner. Take the time to comprehend new knowledge and implement it effectively. If you miss your goal, try again next time.

Do Not Compare Yourself

Comparing your progress to someone else’s is detrimental. It may sound slightly cliché, but everyone has their path in life. This ideology also applies to showing horses. You may experience similar obstacles as another equestrian, but at the end of the day, you are not the same person.

Every exhibitor has their strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may “click” more in the horsemanship, and your friend or barn mate may excel in the equitation. Own your abilities and continuously work to be better.

Be Grateful

If you can do what you love and act on your passion, then be thankful. So many people wish they could ride a horse, let alone show at a competitive level. As an exhibitor, you will be faced with challenges.

Your horse could get injured, your horse could buck you off; the list of potential obstacles is endless. However, being able to do what you love and love what you do is pure happiness. Look for the little things every ride that makes your progress worthwhile.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a freshman at Michigan State University. She has been riding horses for almost ten years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. She loves to show the all-around classes with her beloved horse, Zippos Kat Man Do, aka Teddy. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She is currently on a Pre-Veterinary track and hopes to also study business.